Why Turning Down The Volume Is Important: 4 Insights

Consultants often hear the following about the same executive: “He is such an inspiring, passionate leader” and “he’s driving everyone so hard they’re about to quit.” Why such a contrast? Passionate leadership helps companies attain remarkable goals, but it can also have a negative side, depending how it is expressed in public and private.

When making presentations to a group, especially at critical times or off–the-cuff, effective business leaders use some discretion in expressing their passion as follows:

  • They modulate their voice and gestures so they exhibit enthusiasm and strength, as compared to anger and erratic behavior.
  • They respect their physical proximity to others keeping the previous modulation in mind. Getting “too close” to someone requires a careful calibration and it is worth the effort. More than once I have seen an employee almost run away from a passionate executive, only to learn that they had once been abused and were hypervigilant about their physical space.
  • After a passionate presentation, they listen to the response – really listen. If someone has been offended, it may be important to respond (not necessarily apologize) and better understand how to craft the message in the future.
  • They target the use of passion selectively. Non-stop passion is a burden for all parties and can be interpreted as instability or intimidation, if not balanced with a more measured approach over time.

From an emotional intelligence perspective, passion has the potential to energize others and it can also be interpreted in a very negative manner. Passionate leaders need to incorporate this latter emotional reality into the way they deliver their passion. In contrast to Chef Emeril Lagasse, they need to “turn it down a notch.”